In the Torah portion of Vayishlach, we read that the angel told Ya’akov:1 “Your name will no longer be Ya’akov, but Yisrael….” The Gemara states2 that he who calls Avraham by the name Avram transgresses the command: “Your name will no longer be Avram.”

The Gemara then asks: seeing that this is so, why is it that, when one calls Ya’akov by the name Ya’akov and not Yisrael, that he does not transgress the command “Your name will no longer be Ya’akov, but Yisrael”?

The Gemara answers that the two situations are different, in that, once Avram was given the name Avraham, we no longer find him referred to as Avram. The name Ya’akov, however, is mentioned in the Torah even after he was given the name Yisrael.

Why is it that the Torah still calls Yisrael Ya’akov after it explicitly states “Your name will no longer be Ya’akov, but Yisrael”?

Chassidus explains3 that the names Ya’akov and Yisrael denote two levels of Divine service that must be found within every Jew. There are times when an individual must serve in the manner of Ya’akov, while at other times the person should serve in the manner of Yisrael. The name Yisrael denotes a loftier form of spiritual service, but there are times when the lesser service of Ya’akov must be employed.

The difference between Ya’akov and Yisrael in terms of spiritual service is as follows: the name Ya’akov reminds us that the blessings received by Ya’akov from his father came about as a result of eikev , deception and subterfuge — he was able to outfox his brother Esav. The name Yisrael, however, indicates that the blessings were received from Yitzchak in a straightforward manner.

Since “the deeds of our forefathers are an indication to their descendants,”4 it follows that, in terms of our own lives, there must be a manner of service similar to that of Ya’akov and a manner similar to that of Yisrael.

We observe that, in order to receive Yitzchak’s blessings — which involve physical matters — both Ya’akov and his mother Rivka were self-sacrificing in their deception, with Ya’akov donning the garments of the infamous Nimrod,5 etc. This was done so that Ya’akov could elevate the sparks of holiness found within material things.

Herein lies a lesson on how to serve in the manner of Ya’akov: a Jew’s approach to eating, drinking and other such physical matters is to be that of deception.6 The nature of a deceiver is not to reveal his true intent; he seems to be in complete agreement with his opponent, but when it comes right down to it, he acts in complete opposition to his opponent’s desires.

So too, a Jew must be involved in purely physical matters such as eating and drinking, business and the like. Yet his intent is spiritual — he garbs himself in “Esav’s clothing,” in order to refine and elevate the sparks of holiness found within these physical matters.

The spiritual service of Yisrael is quite different. The blessings for the “dew of heaven and the fat of the earth” were received by Yisrael in an open and completely aboveboard manner.

At this level, a Jew need not hide his spiritual intent in involvement with physical things, for on this level, physicality does not hinder his spiritual service, nor does it conceal G‑dliness.

An example would be the Shabbos meal.7 In this instance, the meal itself is a mitzvah, not like the six days of the week, when a person eats for the sake of spirituality. The sanctity of the Shabbos meal is such that the holiness of the event is clearly manifest.

Based on Likkutei Sichos, Vol. III, pp. 795-796